I have a sign that my kids made for me as a Christmas present many years ago. It’s made of a simple wooden board with the word ‘Joy’ spelled out in bright rope lights. Over the years, it has become my favorite decoration, one that gets the best spot in the house – above the fireplace.
As my kids grew taller and moved away to college, the dynamics of our home shifted. Last year, I made the decision to move the Joy sign into my home office, where I spend a lot of time writing, working, and reflecting on life. It felt fitting; I needed 2023 to be the “Year of Joy,” and the Joy sign was a nice visual support tool
I started by diligently turning off the Joy sign at bedtime and switching it back on in the morning. Even joy, I thought, needs its moments of rest. I loved how it looked at night – a warm, welcoming glow that greeted me when I returned from late-night gigs.
Life, however, has its own way of getting hectic. During times of intense busyness, I would forget to turn off the Joy sign as I dragged myself to bed. The sign remained lit, quietly reminding me that joy can persist even in the midst of chaos.
As the year progressed, I found solace in the soft light of the Joy sign. It was a reminder that joy never really goes away. The awareness of that made the challenges more bearable – the empty house after my youngest son’s move to college, the late nights spent solving business problems, and the unpredictable nature of my creative career.
Towards the end of 2023, I sat in my office, illuminated by Joy’s warm glow, I reflected on the joys and challenges of the past year. Gratitude filled my heart for the gift I had received years ago, now offering a new understanding and a shift in attitude.
Then came the humorous twist in January. One morning, passing by my office, I noticed the Joy sign was still on. A chuckle escaped me as I realized the top part of the letter ‘J’ had dimmed. The sign now looked more like a ‘joj’ (Croatian for ‘oy-vey’ lol).
In that moment, it hit me – even joy needs balance. The burnout of the sign served as a reminder that joy, like everything else, requires moderation. I giggled and teared up simultaneously, appreciating the valuable lesson.
So, as I begin this new year, I’m making a conscious effort to create more space for rest and self-care. The Joy sign taught me that joy, when left on constantly, can transform into ‘oy.’
It doesn’t need to be constantly plugged in to be there. Just like we don’t need to constantly feel engaged with the feeling and the experience of joy for it to remain there.
My Joy sign needs moments of recharge to stay vibrant. To experience joy we need downtime, moments of stillness, and rest.
What are your thoughts on Joy?